Press release World Baseball Softball Confederation
As the United Through Sports (UTS) Virtual Youth Festival 2020 gets underway today, coinciding with United Nations (UN) World Children’s Day, World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari underlines the importance and responsibility of the global Baseball-Softball community to increase access of sport to youth while inspiring the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect:
As the only international sports federation (IF) that operates World Cups starting from the 12-year-old age bracket, the WBSC and our sport’s culture place the utmost importance on children — who are the future of sport and future leaders of the world.
As part of our latest initiative, the WBSC is fully supporting the UTS Virtual Youth Festival 2020, promoting the event via our OTT platform GameTime.sport. This festival is a unique opportunity to truly celebrate the world’s youth, standing virtually beside them in solidarity and unity. It is always moving to see the global sports community come together to promote inclusivity and active, healthy lifestyles among our youth.
Never before has the importance of sport as a tool to unify and nurture inclusive communities been more vital. And all of this begins with the world’s youth and future generation of leaders. I have no doubt that they will all be forever shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why the WBSC is committed to supporting our youth to foster a brighter future.
The WBSC has long recognised the power of youth, who are not only our future but our present. We are committed to ensuring that the youth Baseball-Softball community, which represents the core of our sport, is given ample opportunity to engage in our game no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, religion or financial status.
This is why we created the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup in 2011. Unique in the world of sport, this biennial competition allows our youth to compete on the world stage. And not only is it an incredible showcase of sporting excellence, but it also encourages all competitors to become leaders on the field of play, instilling the values of teamwork, inclusivity and respect.
In addition, in 2019, we opened the Tainan Asia-Pacific International Baseball Stadium and Training Centres, the first-ever dedicated elite youth sports facility in the world. Every aspect of this state-of-the-art baseball complex, which is home to the WBSC U-12 World Cup until 2027, was built with young athletes in mind.
We also launched the U-12 Mixed Softball World Cup in 2019 for girls and boys aged 10 to 12, emphasising how our sport is also an excellent conduit for gender equality. The same can be said for another WBSC discipline, which is also very popular with youth – Baseball5. Making its debut at the Youth Olympic Games in 2026, Baseball5 is also mixed gender, easy to play and a sport you can #PlayEverywhere.
However, our commitment to youth extends far beyond the elite level of youth Baseball, Softball and Baseball5, which is why we recently launched the WBSC Academy. This online learning platform focuses on helping children enjoy the game of Baseball, Softball and Baseball5 with dedicated educational courses on how to play and get involved. It also provides expert resources for all of our 210 National Federations and Associate Members so that they too can lay the foundations for the sporting journeys of millions of children worldwide.
And so every day, I urge the entire baseball-softball community to celebrate the world’s youth and encourage diversity in all that we do. Because they are our future and will continue to lead our sport to greater heights, build and mend bridges between communities and shape the world into one where all can live in harmony and peace.
— WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari